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tv   Book Discussion on Hunting Season  CSPAN  December 1, 2013 11:00pm-11:41pm EST

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november 22, 1963, with the date of in the evening terrorist jackie nothing i can say to mitigate the horror of this day. your husband was an aspiring member of my generation he collided destiny and help. he had a passionate gaiety to know him and work with him and for him was the most of filling experience of ever could have imagined. the love and grief of the nation should give you the feeling the terrible vacancy we fell. rescinding our profoundest love and sympathy i know you'll love me know when i can do anything to help. arthur. . .
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talks about hate crimes against latinos in the u.s. what she says has been increasing in frequency as the anti-iteration backlash grows. she tells the largest story through the case of marcello a 37-year-old ecuadorian immigrant who was beaten to death by a group of teenagers on long island in 2008. this is about 25 minutes. >> i feel like i'm in my living room having a conversation. i am really very glad that you were here tonight. i almost didn't make it, but that is another story.
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as many of you know, my book "hunting season" is about a horrible crime that took place november 8, 2008 in long island when a group of teenagers attacked and killed an immigrant from ecuador. his name was marcello. he wasn't alone that night. he was walking with his friend who survived the attack but marcelo did not. there were many reasons i was a track to the story. one of them was the nature of the crime. i found out very early on that these young people coming and cy were very young. they went to entertainment to go
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around hunting for beaners which is what they call immigrants. for some of the undocumented immigrants from mexico in the profession they kept talking about how they were looking for illegals from mexico. so, i was horrified by that, of course as anybody would be, the fact that young people can think of so little of a human life asked to go out hunting for these people after they were prey. the second reason is that a long time ago in a faraway land when i was a reporter for the new torque times, i wrote a story about the studies released from the state university at albany in which they said that immigrants were no longer going to the city. they were in fact moving to
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suburbia. this was happening all over the country but only with hispanic immigrants but all immigrants. so i wrote a story about that. and what they said to the professors was that this would have consequences. it would have consequences in terms of politics and also in terms of tension and all kinds of things so i wrote a story in 1996 and i made a mental note to follow up and never did. it's one of those things reporters kind of move on to the next story. so when i heard about marcelo lucero, i thought this was in many ways sadly the perfect follow-up because everything that they said would happen in suburbia in fact happened. they don't know if you've ever been there but it's about 60 miles from new york city and
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this kind of situation was going on so near its actually between new york city and the hamptons and so many -- maybe not so many of us but people in new york dr. there every weekend but maybe they look sideways and think this is going on here, these people are our neighbors and it is happening right next door to us so that is the second reason that i was attracted to the story and the third reason is because as many of you know i'm from new england myself. i came from cuba when i was 16 years on a boat and i had a book about the boat so i felt somehow connected to the story. those of us who came from cuba in 1980 came to be known because the boat was called to the boat
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left. the term that i like and use with pride, but it became with no question about it. i've always been conscious of labels and what that means and how much they can hurt and contained an entire group of people. the label meant at a certain point commonality or criminals, it's not a criminality but it's close and that has haunted some of these people who became prey. so i begin reporting the book in january of 2010 with the trial of jeffrey who was one of the seven young people who attacked marcelo lucero. it took blank very hard years. some of you here in fact probably all of you know how much i worked and even helped me
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in that work for which i am very, very grateful. and a lot happened in those three years. i went to a little village in ecuador. many of you have probably heard of it. it's about 30 miles. it's much smaller. most people have never been there. and if he majority of the immigrants are hispanic. practically all of them are from the village. i was immediately attracted to that because an immigrant arrived somewhere and he or she gets a job, get get a house and begins calling his or her friends and family with reports of a good life fo or at least a
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better life, jobs and housing and people follow. i was looking at my first visit and i missed the first to come here who is in the book of course and he tells me the story of how he came and how they followed. eventually of course i had to understand the forces that had pushed people out of ecuador because as you know immigration was a two-way process with a push and pull a fact, the polling that we do with our way of life and the fact that we pay better wages and have jobs not all the time but usually end at the push is when immigrants leave for whatever reason. i found a pretty village surrounded by mountains with an
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abundance of food and very kind of people doing very well enough to stay. it's changed dramatically because of migration and there watherewas a point in the villae person who was helping me who was a reporter was the owner of the local paper in town. he showed me the dividing line and he said this was before immigration and this is it now. it has literally doubled in size. people that were in other places from the village for sending pictures from magazines and they would say this is what i want to. the word on the kitchen cabine cabinets. he designed the house and over the years he sent about $100,000 to have the house of his dreams
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built. it was built and it was waiting for him, his bedroom was there waiting for him. his mother was of course very sad and she gave me a tour of the house. he had three stories and he had decided who was going to live where. he wanted to have all of the family together. he wasn't married or have children that he had two sisters and one brother and a nephew and he was a godfather to the nephew as well. so she showed me in the living room this huge entertainment center with a large tv and said that he really wanted a very large tv and the entertainment center had to be custom-made for the tv because it was so big. so it had arrived after he was killed and she pointed to show me the mantle on top of the tv was his ashes. it was extremely sad.
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i also of course talked to the parents who talked to me, the parents of the boys who attacked the marcelo lucero. not all of them did the two of them did and the book is better because of that. the father of mr. conroy was curry just enough to open his own and tell me about the family of his son and another of the seven boys who also talked to me. there is an enormous portrayal of this young man in the buck because i know more about them because their parents talked to me and they shared their childhood and life experiences and their family. i'm happy to report that the mayor is the grandson of italian immigrants because it is mostly irish and italian immigrants.
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he didn't like to leave patchogue. it is the best place to be. why would he want to be anywhere else particularly in the summer. so she's never been to italy but afterwards he realized he needed to reach out and to get to know the place that had sen have seny people to his village. he doesn't speak spanish and he had never been anywhere pretty much. he read the book recentl a booke sent me an e-mail and said i'm not quoting, but he said it was a really great book and he called it a cautionary tale that everyone should read, particularly young people. and then without my prompting me he said you can use that in any way you want to because everyone has to read this book. i think everybody ought to read the book particularly young
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people. i say that because a lot of what happened in patchogue began in high school. high school is a complicated place. it was a large place. there were kids from all the towns around patchogue. it's called patchogue medford high school and i'm going to read a little bit from a section of the book. very short because i don't like reading. before i begin reporting the book, two of the students had a journalism school and they did a documentary on the case. one of them was my students when he was rating the documentary and it was his documentary that inspired me because i watched and i realized this is great but there is a lot more that i can do with the book.
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so they gave me -- there was a documentary called "running the wild," and they gave me the transcript right after it happened which is important because even conducting the interviews in 2010 have time to think about it is a different story. this is right after the murder. a boy named david, 16 knows how the other people for non-hispanic kids would throw kids at the latino student who huddled together at the own table at lunch time like they would say that we immigrants should go back to mexico, david recalled. and what do you do, one of the filmmakers inquired. nothing. most of the time we remain quiet, david replied. so when you were eating and someone shouts go back to
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mexico, what goes through your head? what do you think and how do you feel? you can tell that this is a well-trained reporter at the high school. [laughter] i feel very -- a long pause. ashamed because we are in a country that is not ours. has there ever been a moment someone said something mean to you in a school hallway and have you had a problem with someone three school? "hunting season" yes, sometimes they are walking and will come by and pushed us and we can't do anything because we don't want to get in trouble. students on the way to the gym with mumbled go back to your country. whether the student was mexican or not or they would yell talk english and brush off to class. other times they would threaten latino students saying that if they complained they would call immigration authorities. the list of insults were long. you hear mexican and speech
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[inaudible] , you hear beaners, border hop, the list can go on forever. you hear it illegal immigrant. another boy named william said you can't walk in the hallway without looking back. a 17-year-old who was moved since she was nine said she heard nasty comments of puerto ricans and dominicans and this is how she analyzed the behavior of some of her classmates. this is angelico talking. i don't think they are racist or anything. i think it is what they hear at home like when you hear stuff on the news saying that mexicans are crossing the border and hispanics are coming over here and trying to take over our jobs i think it is their parents telling them all this stuff indicates that in their head so they come to school with this page records hispanics when they
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are not the only immigrants coming to this country. but i think the kids hear it at home and then they come over here and think they know everything but really they are all really ignorant. so that was angelico speaking of. this is just a selection of pages in the transcript of students talking about what went on in the high school and the grown-ups say they didn't know, that they never heard of. in fact this attack at the high school situation and also the attack in the village had been going on for a long time and everyone including the town authorities claim they didn't know. it is possible they didn't know because many of the immigrants were here and they said they basically went home because they didn't want to attract attention
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to themselves. they didn't want to call the police because they didn't know what would happen to them if they called police. have things changed in patchogue, a lot of people ask me. i like to say yes they have. i mentioned the mayor has been there. there's been the library in patchogue has been amazing. they were before the attack and they continue to be. many members of the clergy have done a lot of things. rabbis, pastors, pastor walter had a lot of programs in his church but helped immigrants and the community in general. but i do have to tell you that i think it was in april of this year one immigrant was attacked in patchogue and then a few weeks later two or three were attacked in east patchogue.
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so the mayor says it's hard to tell. it's hard to know if it was crime is a teacher at. many of the immigrants carry cash because they are undocumented and cannot get paid with tax. but the mayor was happy that after they were attacked they came to him first and that clearly shows that the lines of communications have opened in an account so that is a very positive thing. i should note that when the attacks took place in patchogue none of the teenagers actually lived there. they lived there because they knew there would be immigrants walking around and they lived in the neighborhood and medford or east patchogue or other places. i want to read another short passage from the trial of jeffrey conroy and this is the beginning of chapter one. this is when the only surviving
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witness of the attack was on the witness stand and the defense lawyer and the prosecutor are asking him questions about the attack. did you ever see a knife can ask pouliot, the lawyer representing jeffrey conroy, the young man who at 17 had confessed to stabbing and killing his friend, marcelo lucero thread never. did you ever see anyone stab marcelo? i'm not asking, please stop. sorry about that. the lawyer said and he went on to the next question, but it wasn't fine. the nights that he stayed away thinking what if. the hours that he had mulled over his actions on the day of the attack. it wasn't fair that o the lawyer could have a simple yes or no. neither of the answers could describe his views or regrets. the truth is that he had turned his back momentarily on his
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friend and the attackers to run for safety in a nearby alley. he had called up to follow him but instead he stood his ground and fought. the truth was he hadn't seen the knife that he wished he had. when you got to the police precinct did you talk to a detective or police officer wide-awake where did you have to wait, the lawyer continued? >> i had to wait. three hours. spin again next time, the two or three hours you ar you're waitio speak to a police officer did you learn about what happened to your friend? no. >> when did you learn that? >> i didn't find out until the detectives approached me. they said they were detectives and the first thing i asked is how is my friend. what did they say? they sometimes very coming your friend passed away. he's dead. at this point, he could no longer hold back his tears yet he wanted to go back in time to the one-room apartment come to
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shut the door and stay inside with his friend watching tv. he wished he could never gone out that day. if he hadn't come if he said no incidents yes on the november 8, 2008 if he hadn't been so accommodating to his friend, perhaps lucero would be alive. he briefly considered turning down the invitation of david and hiinhis friend's voice he detecd something of desperation or loneliness. later he wondered dave lucero know that he was going to die that day? did he somehow know he had hours to live and that is why he didn't want to be allowed? lucero may not have needed a savior that they. he couldn't have saved his friend. what he needed he had concluded after the attack was someone to bear witness. so here he was more than 16 months after that they bearing
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witness. >> how did you know marcelo lucero? >> he cleared his throat before answering. i've known him since i was 5-years-old. i want to read that -- i wanted to read that because i think it translates what this book is about. it's about regret and about murder and racism and bigotry but mostly it is about people and what motivates them and makes them do what they do no matter where they are from, from here or south of the border. thank you very much. [applause] i would be happy to take questions if you have any. >> is there any discussion on how the schools have changed? >> i personally have not
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reported that part because the book was very focused on the time this took place. but i had a reading in the library and at least one young student from the high school went and she said that things have changed and that immigrants and non- immigrant students are now getting together and for example having lunch together in the cafeteria which wasn't the case before. it was a very divided school. i think part of the reason is because the students said i now the english learners are not in their own hallway. they have separate classes and as we know that doesn't work and so there was no interaction except when the other students had to walk to the gym and go through the whole way and that's when the things happened.
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she said that is no longer the case. so that is good news. >> can you tell us about the immigrants, how they supported themselves and how they worked? >> at a certain point not so much because of the construction industry that i but it was mosty construction and long work where they were. part of the issue is that this wasn't a village of upper middle-class people come it was lower middle class to middle class. so when they were seen as the employees here they can be seen as competitors for jobs as well and with the turn in the economy
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it's coincidence this took place in 2008. i did a lot of investigation into hate crimes and that kind of goes hand in hand. so that is how they are making a living. some women work in homes taking care of the cleaning and babysitting. >> i don't know if you heard there is a student group in texas today they took the program off but what shocked me is the head of the student group was actually looking out. his name was garcia. to me it was shocking knowing
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that they decided that this would be a good idea. did you find any hate among the groups you talk to? >> i didn't find hate but one of the attackers his mother is african-american and his father is puerto rican and what i learned in reporting this book is, while i think we know already people tied to humanity to those that we know. it's not different for example with black-and-white. it's like my best friend but i don't believe in whatever. so it's kind of they were comfortable in their own world because they knew each other and spoke the same language literally and it was the newcomers, the person that didn't speak the language.
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in fact for a long time for girlfriend of jeffrey, roy she was very loyal to him and she was also in the book and she went to the reading and people say jeffrey had watching a friends he can't possibly be racist. i'm not a psychologist but i also know from my research that many times they are not motivated by bigotry, they are motivated by thrill seekers rather than people that are hateful and it's the kind of behavior that happens usually
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after drinking or drugs or in this case both. they were smoking pot and had a few beers before that. it's a group thing and it's very difficult to find. i don't think that any of them alone would have attacked marcelo lucero. it was group behavior. it was an activity, it was the thing to do. now why they wouldn't do it with immigrants and not with anybody else is the question. and i think that it had a lot to do with the atmosphere at the time, but also the thinking in the country and beyond. 2008 was a bad year for immigrants all over the world there were a lot of hate crimes and bigotry in part because of the economy and in part because when people woke up and realized it was like who are these people. there was a lot of reaction all over the world.
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elected officials, and this is all over the books, they were very careless and what they said. they talked about not only illegal aliens, that supporting the children of immigrants who cross the border. one of them said, and so it just became sort of fair game. if you heard one of the things i read from a young woman in high school, the media played a role in this. and so, i think it was just this was the environment in which they grew up. >> [inaudible] you pointed this out in the book and somehow [inaudible]
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there is a healing process going on in this tragedy but there are many other places they don't go to any kind of awareness. you move further away from manhattan and upstate new york you find much more of this. when you explored this rhetoric of hatred and the kind of thing in this case we are saying they were kids, 16, 17-years-old, they were probably hearing things at home and on the radio all the time and on facebook you
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can post anything on immigrants and have ten or 15 people saying the exact same thing. it's the extent you've been able to reflect this and get some wisdom over this, what is the record that makes someone that lives and works in today's rhetoric to go and actually gang up with some buddies spin echo >> i want to say several things about this. in manhattan we live on the evolution of things don't happen here. they do. and a few blocks from here on a columbia professor was attacked recently by a group of young people because he was wearing a turban and he had a beard.
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that happened, what's a month ago i think? we just got new figures on hate crimes and they are optimistic of new york by 30%. hate crimes have increased. it is primarily fueled by hate crimes in new york city and in civil county. i don't want to alarm you although it is alarming part of what has happened is that in some places, civil county being one of them, the way that there were certain hate crimes classified as vandalism, so if you write something on the wall of the synagogue, that used to be vandalism. so the numbers have gone up in part because of that.
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but i think it's interesting frankly when you are reading a report that hate crimes have gone up 30% and other places like new york city. so i think that we need to be clear we are not out of the woods yet just because we live in new york city. the second issue that i want to say is difficult for me to answer because clearly i am not in his head and i wasn't able to speak to any of them that i was able to speak to the parents of the families. it's complicated to know exactly what triggered this action. but i do know is that i they had been going on for a long time and again, it had to do with boredom, it had to do with what you do on a friday and saturday night in server via -- suburbia.
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if you have nothing to do you don't have to go out hunting people but it has to do with the kind of things we are hearing in the town and on tv. everything you pointed out, it was a part of the atmosphere. it was group behavior and easy prey. nobody called the police. they would have said to our day, they are teenagers they will be out in no time. the justice department has come down pretty hard on civil county and they've already made changes and basically said if you have paid attention to this, if you had done something with these teenagers in the nobody would have died. so it was an oversight and that kind of thing that when you have schools it gets worse. you have to confront it.
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>> politicians say these things and the person that is interviewing them, they don't call them on it. they call them on their hateful rhetoric but then it's blown off as new york city, the most liberal 30% increase nobody hits them back. >> some people do. there is good journalism and not so good journalism. sometimes people have profound
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bound and objectivity. but i've tried to give myself s a reporter is people tell you they don't like them because they committed the crimes in the neighborhood. they tend not to commit crimes because they are not documented and they don't want to bring attention to themselves. they don't want to be deported. so, these are the things that reporters ought to do to check the statistics and to check effectively just use a bit but here are the numbers. >> as far as the families that have this population [inaudible]
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do they have a sense of belonging in their community or any sense of this is where their children are raised and where they want to live clicks. >> i think it depends. with anything in life, children make a huge difference. if you have children, chocolate also in this immigration process children havcontrol them have ts assimilate a great deal. it's the parents become the translators of your life, literally. they are the ones who take you by the hand and take you to school. you introduced them to this world. so i think if you have children and your children are bilingual or prefer english at home. if you have a good job this is home. if you have a stable relationship -- it's not unlike people who move from the u.s. to a different city.
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if things go well, it's home and if not you have the option to go back to the other city. these people did not sometimes. so i think it depends. the person who was with marcelo that tonight, for example, when i met him he was the saddest person i talked to. he was just completely devastated. he is a man of deep religious faith. he had an experience happened to him once -- you read about it when he was a little boy but changed his life in terms of faith and religion. deeply religious. and yet, he was completely devastated by this event. he felt like nothing. he felt like if he could be hunted down like an animal, if he could see his friend getting killed, it's like he couldn't understand it, he couldn't compute. but the last time i saw him, he was in a
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